Milk never runs out, lights go on by themselves when it gets dark outside. The car is warmed up and ready to go in winter, the house is always pleasantly cool in summer. What do you need to do to make this all happen? Nothing. In future – in fact, it’s already starting today – routine things are happening completely automatically because we are living with the Internet of Things (IoT) completely naturally. Equipment and machines are networked online and ‘thinking’ along with us. Like the refrigerator that orders food when it runs out. It applies to all areas of our life where annoying routine tasks are eliminated (such as thinking about milk on the way home), but the trade-off is dealing with more data, data analysis and date security. Nevertheless: The opportunities seem too good to leave unexploited. The Internet of Things could be particularly profitable for stationary retail, where the McKinsey Global Institute has predicted an annual potential of 410 billion to 1.2 trillion US dollars for 2025. To compare: The auto industry calculates making between 210 to 740 billion dollars. A lot of money.

Stationary retail could earn up to 1.2 trillion dollars with the IoT.

The thing with the always-filled refrigerator only works because retailers find new ways to network and because they are able to correctly interpret the collected data. This gives them a much more comprehensive picture of customers and their needs – and even how these needs change under various circumstances, sometimes hourly (!). The American company Walmart, for example, watches the weather forecast very exactly because, thanks to accurate data analysis, it has discovered that its customers buy more salad when the sun is shining and it’s over 26 degrees Celsius. So on summer days, there most likely is always enough green goods to meet demand – and, probably less heavier food. It is also important to know what customers reach for because shelves can be automatically and appropriately stocked. Not too much, not too little, never empty. Good ‘housekeeping’ for optimising a budget.

There are companies that are already using the IoT and benefiting a lot.

Walmart, however, isn’t the only company that is already focused on IoT for managing its stores. Disney gives visitors “MagicBand” bracelets that tell it which attractions are particularly popular in its parks. That allows Disney to respond by expanding wherever there is growth potential. Hugo Boss uses heat sensors in its stores to track customer movement, which then allows it to place premium products at the most-frequented spots. The IoT not only makes logistics easier but also promotes targeted and personalised communication with customers. It starts with the design of the stores (Key word: digital signage) and ends where customers receive tailored offers as soon as they enter a store (via apps, for instance). When they leave with the products picked out for them, there’s no queue at the cash point. Because there is no cash point any more. Items, smart phones and internet are all networked, and like online shopping, the bank account charge comes afterwards. The completely normal progression of things.